Small Fry's Story

I used to go into stores, I'd steal little things like candy bars, models, sodas - anything I could get away with. I guess it kind of got boring doing that, so it gradually progressed to stealing things from people while they were walking down the street - taking their purse, taking their bikes, things like that.

Most of the time I got arrested, I was let off with probation - informal probation. It wasn't really on my record. They figured, 'oh, he's just a little kid, we can let him off.

Small Fry was recommended to the Turn On To Teens program by a counselor at Fresno County Juvenile Hall, where TOTT is based. He'd shown the officer some of his poetry. It made a real impact, and convinced her that he could benefit from coming into TOTT and finding encouragement to do his writing.

With a rap sheet dating back to his pre-teen years, and a severe drug problem, this handsome, undersized teen-ager wasn't a newcomer to the justice system, or to the streets. He could play the game well, and was aided in his efforts by a friendly, appealing personality. This was his first message he posted on the TOTT system, as it appeared:

Message #1423 - General Gab
Date: 08-27-90 20:28
From: Small Fry
To: All
Subject:: hellow

HI everyone.I'm Small Fry.Yes I am new in this program but thats allright I wont bight untill I know you better ok?I guess I should tell you a little abought myself but I wount.Yes I am locked up but dont let that wory you I'm a pussycat!

I was thinking does any one out there like HEARD ROCK ? If so right back soon because I'd like to get to know you . I havent benn out for five mo.


Several TOTT volunteers and participants responded. This reply was typical:

Message #1432 - General Gab (Received)
Date: 08-28-90 22:05
From: Raven
To: Small Fry
Subject:: hellow


Yo, yo, yo! Hey Small Fry, I know where you are coming from on Hard Rock!

I'd be happy to write to you, and by the way, welcome to the system!


Message #1466 - General Gab (Received)
Date: 08-31-90 20:44
From: Small Fry
To: Raven
Subject:: whats up


Hay Raven whats up ? I got your So you listen to hard rock. do you listen to METALICA or ANTHRAX ? Well I'd like to here from you again C-YA DUDE Small Fry

Small Fry explored common interests and hobbies with others on the system. It wasn't so important, at first, what he was writing about - but being part of something that was important.

Smalll Fry took to TOTT immediately. Not only did his poetry become a regular feature of the bulletin board, and TOTT's newletter, but Small Fry became a full member of the TOTT community, writing and responding to anyone on the system who wrote to him. The opportunity to express himself through his writing gave him a completely new identity.